ACCA vs ACA – What’s the Difference?

ACCA vs ACA – What’s the Difference? – While choosing between ACCA and ACA many students get confused about what to pick and what not to pursue. But there are things you should think about before deciding on these two marvelous career options.

First of all, before going into detail about these two courses, you need to make sure that you know your career goals are. So, if you don’t know, find it out. Start with your likes and dislikes. Finance is a huge domain and there are many options. Just because your friends are doing one and not doing another cannot be the reason for choosing one course over another.

As these two need a lot of patience, perseverance and hard work, you can’t just choose one in a fluke. Take your time. Read about each of them (we’ve given all the details below). And then decide what suits you best.

People have different opinions. They also have different biases. Instead of asking other people what they think is the best option, read this, do your own research, find out what aligns with your career goals and then go for the one that’s right for you. There’s no right answer for everyone.

In this article, we will discuss about the following –

  1. ACCA vs ACA Infographics
  2. What is Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?
  3. What is Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA)?
  4. Key differences between ACCA and ACA
  5. Why pursue ACCA?
  6. Why pursue ACA?

ACCA vs ACA Infographics

Reading time : 90 seconds

Lets understand the difference between these two streams with the help of this ACCA vs ACA Infographics.

ACCA vs ACA infographics

What is Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)?

ACCA is one of the most sought after certifications you can choose to pursue. ACCA is one of the fastest growing accountancy professions in the world. Over 436,000 students have chosen to pursue ACCA and they are from 180 countries in the world. The best part of ACCA is its flexibility which allows its students to balance study and work very well. To study ACCA, you can choose not to do any class and can do your own self-study.

If you talk about comprehensiveness, ACCA fits the bill perfectly. It prepares the students for technical and management, both domains. Thus once the students complete their certification, they’re ready to join any reputed company and to handle finance domain of that company with ease.

With ACCA you would be able to get excellent education within a short budget. Moreover, it has huge global presence and once you do it, you would be recognized as a world class accountant. Even the top notch companies prefer ACCA more than any other professionals from finance domain.

What is Associate Chartered Accountant (ACA)?

ACA is also very much recognized and sought after accountancy course for students and professionals. It also has international recognition and many students who dream of joining Big 4 companies usually pursue ACA.

ACA also helps you create a delicate balance between your study and work so that you’re able to create a work-life balance and thrive as a professional. ACA doesn’t have only one entry routes; rather it has several and it can be done even from Europe, USA and Asia.

ACA is also very cost effective. Under a very small budget you would be able to get a globally recognized degree and as a result you would be treated as an expert in the accounting field. Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) has designed ACA in such a way that it has become a perfect blend of practical approach and technical knowhow. That’s the reason many students are getting interested to do this. ACA is also available from Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. But if you want to do ACA, do it from ICAEW as it’s the most recognized and globally accepted.

Key differences between ACCA and ACA

Even if both of these courses are at par excellence, there are significant differences between two. Let’s look at them, one by one.

  • Duration of the course: Many students want to complete the course fast. If you want something that is of short duration and will give you a lot of expertise in accounting domain, you should pick ACCA over ACA. As you will be able to complete ACCA within 2 years along with 3 years of signed-off experience. Whereas to complete ACA, you need to invest at least 3 to 4 years of your life.
  • Global recognition: Both ACA and ACCA are of international repute. But if you compare between two then ACCA is more recognized globally than ACA. ACCA is recognized in over 180 countries in the world. But in many countries in Asia, ACA is not considered as a globally recognized certification. If you would like to have a global impact and want to voyage around the world, you should choose ACCA as ACA has limited international recognition.
  • Regulation: To become ACA, you need to have three and half years of working experience along with passing the exam. Not only that, during three and a half years, you need to work in ACA registered firms and not elsewhere. But ACCA has flexibility. Even if you need to have three years of working experience along with two years of course, you can have your experience in finance domain of any company. This simple regulation creates a massive difference and makes ACCA more accessible to students than ACA.
  • Job Relevancy: Both ACA and ACCA offer multiple job opportunities in many different areas. ACA is more suitable for people who would like to pursue their career in Auditing and Accounting. Whereas ACCA is more comprehensive, giving options for people who want to pursue a career in management accounting, financial management and financial services. There’s no better option here. You can choose ACA or ACCA as per your career goals and professional aspiration.
  • Flexibility: ACCA gives a lot of room for choosing when, where and how to finance your qualification. For ACA there’s no room for such flexibility. But many students of ACA argue that once they complete their education under ACA, there are many post qualification benefits which help them update their industry knowledge and help them hone their expertise further.
  • Exam on the scale of toughness: Even if it seems that both of the certifications are tough, truth is ACA is tougher than ACCA. First of all, ACA is of long duration, usually of 3-4 years whereas ACCA is of only 2 years. The subjects are also tougher in ACA to study and clear. At the end of Advanced Level under ACA certification, one has to go through case study which is tougher than ACCA last level of exams.
  • Salary difference: As you can expect there is a huge salary difference between ACA and ACCA certified professionals. The average salary of ACCA certified professionals is 30,700 pound per annum. Whereas the average salary of ACA certified professionals is 78,400 pound per annum. Can you see the difference? If we judge just on the basis of salary and the opportunity cost, ACA is much high value qualification than ACCA.

Why pursue ACCA?

There are several reasons for which you should pursue ACCA. Here are some of them –

  • It is more globally recognized and anywhere in the world this qualification is valid. Thus if you need to change country, you can still carry your qualification with you and you will still be employable.
  • ACCA is of much shorter duration, just 2 years. If you want to get a globally acclaimed qualification within a short stint of time, ACCA is for you.
  • The fee structure of ACCA is also very much reasonable. You don’t need to put yourself into debt to afford this qualification. Thus many students who can work hard decide to join ACCA.
  • As ACCA is a more comprehensive course, it offers many job opportunities in different field. You can choose to work in financial services company, FMCG, Education Industry or Accounting firm.
  • Students feel that ACCA is much easier than any other courses in Finance domain. First of all, even if you need to have 3 years of experience, you can have the experience in finance domain of any company. So, there’s no strict regulation to follow.

Why pursue ACA?

  • Even if it’s one of the toughest exams in the world, you should pursue this course because at the end it pays you so well that you don’t regret working harder than ever. If you compare per annum salary with any other professional compensation, you will find that as an ACA you could get almost double or triple of the salary other professionals are getting.
  • ACA offers you a practical approach along with technical knowledge which many professional courses fail to offer. Thus, it is treated as one of most relevant finance courses in the world.
  • ACA offers a lot of post qualification support which is not provided by any other institute or board of education. Thus students get to update themselves regularly and remain at the top of their profession all the time.

Other useful accounting certification comparisons


If you look at both ACCA vs ACA, they have advantages and disadvantages. Thus we cannot pinpoint the best option for you. Do your soul search and find out which aligns most with your career goals.


  1. By Syed Muhammad Haider Hussain on

    Great analysis again.
    ACCA if completed in first attempt take 2.5 yrs. This is considerd as fast speed. Completing it in 2 yrs is rare but extremely fast.
    To clear it with high grades one need to give 3 months/150+ hrs per paper.
    After ACCA we have to give 3-4 papers for getting ICAEW qualified.

    Acca affiliate


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